Section 4: need to know low down
Section 4 is…
1. A legislative regime, under which people whose asylum applications have been refused and those without legal status in the UK must live, pending final determination of their immigration status or removal from the UK.
2. Coercive. People living under Section 4 are banned from working and receiving any benefits, so they have no choice but to accept Section 4 conditions. They have no choice but to live at the address the Home Office gives them – however far this may be from their children, their family, their friends.
3. Punitive. The government admits that Section 4 is designed to be a punishing regime so that people are ‘encouraged’ to return to their countries of origin. However, people don’t return; they stay and endure those conditions because they fear persecution, inhuman and degrading treatment or death in those countries.
This is because Section 4 is for people whose asylum claims have been unsuccessful but cannot be returned to their countries for a variety of reasons, such as outstanding applications, lack of documentation, or no diplomatic relations with the country of origin.
7 things you should know about Section 4
1. People living under Section 4 are banned from working.
2. Section 4 has two elements – accommodation and subsistence. Accommodation is in shared houses and the subsistence element is the equivalent of £5 a day for food and other essentials. They cannot be given separately.
3. People living under Section 4 are banned from all mainstream benefits – including free school meals for children.
4. Section 4 is cashless support. A pre-paid Azure card (like a debit card) is issued to those on Section 4. It can only be used in certain shops – not the nearest or cheapest.
5. You cannot save up on Section 4. If you don’t spend the money on your card by the deadlines, it vanishes – you cannot save for more expensive items.
6. No cash means no public transport, no stamps, no phone calls.
7. Section 4 is ‘no choice’. People can be sent to any address the Home Office dictates, even if miles away from family and friends.